Mindfulness has its origins in Buddhism and more recently has been incorporated into different Western psychological approaches. It has been demonstrated to be effective in a range of difficulties such as stress, anxiety, low mood, pain and aspects of chronic illness.

There are many definitions of mindfulness, but a useful one is that it means intentionally paying attention to what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment, and noticing this with curiosity and without immediate judgement, as a first step.

Mindfulness allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not always helpful. It is these thoughts that drive our behaviour and emotions and therefore our experience of our lives. With mindfulness, we learn to notice when we are caught in a cycle of unhelpful brooding. If we see the present moment more clearly, this can lead to us finding more positive ways to respond to events rather than reacting in old, unhelpful habitual ways.

“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.” – Pema Chödrön

In our modern, technology-driven world that gives us immediate access to any information and communication, we can stop noticing the world around us. We can lose touch with how our bodies are feeling and end up living in our heads, reacting to whatever thoughts we have without considering their truth, reasonableness and effect on us. An essential part of mindfulness is reconnecting with the world around us. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment, whether it’s a drink, a meal, the feel of the ground beneath our feet, the sun on our face or the warmth or coolness of the air. Our lives and relationships can become richer and more fulfilling.

We all already have the capacity to be present and mindful. It doesn’t require us to change who we are, and we can acquire these qualities with simple practices. These practices include meditation. And yes, anyone can meditate – it is not a mystical or complicated process!

Mindfully Present